The Ignorant Sakai

Sakai is a local idiom to describe a person who is a country bumpkin or someone who has never seen common things. It is a somewhat derogatory term for the indigenous tribe it was named after.

After receiving two bookings for hotels in Kuningan, Jakarta, I was curious. The first is Ascott Kuningan Jakarta and the second being the Aston at Kuningan Suites Hotel.

Confusingly, there is also a regency and city named Kuningan, east of Jakarta, near Cirebon. To complicate things, Kuningan City Mall turns up in search results.

I asked my Jakarta friend and Jakarta resident Veronica Sitorus (@ve_nat on IG) and she confirmed Kuningan is one of three business districts in Jakarta. When I went to Jakarta, I stayed at the Gran Mahakam Jakarta which was a fine hotel but I hated the metal detectors and explosive sniffing dogs checking my camera bags.

Jahabar Sadiq, who was then working there, visited me at the hotel before taking me on a Jakarta pub crawl. Coming from KL I have seen the undercarriage of cars inspected with mirrors before entering the car park of the KL Hilton in KL Sentral. I suspect the Grand Mahkam hotel had some American connection. This was after the Jakarta Marriott bombing.

Just my luck that I stayed later at the Renaissance New World Makati Hotel in Manila, also managed by Marriot I think. The Philippines capital suffered a wave of bombings by militants at that time. I went through the same hassle with my camera bags at hotel and at mall entrances. Was a bit unnerving seeing. for the first time, a guard with firearms inside a McDonald’s.

Anyway, Jakarta is great for street photography on foot. Although there seems to be growing inter faith intolerance now. It was nice to see multi-religious symbols placed together at a roadside art shop. I went to the Jakarta Cathedral or the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Assumption earlier and saw many male guests attending a wedding dressed in batik and wearing songkoks. The women were in beautiful kebayas. I felt like an ignorant, sheltered sakai from Malaysia. All hotels cited can be booked at MyCen Hotels

#kuningan #jakarta #indonesia #streetphotography #manila

A Sweet Love Story

The joys of street photography is not just in capturing people with your camera. It is about meeting, engaging strangers, to listen to their life stories, if they are willing to share. Inter racial marriages seem to be more common in small towns and I was happy to hear a new perspective. A sweet love story.

Meet The Family.

Puan Saudah’s husband Ameer and daughter Ramizah came to join the conversation. Looking at my pics on the iPad, the man noted he knows one of the guys I photographed. It was Gurcharan Singh from the Sikh Temple in Kalumpang.

I looked up at Ameer’s face again and did a double take. Our conversation went from Malay to English at this point:

Me: Don’t tell me you are Punjabi?

Ameer: Yes (with a grin). I am Ameer Abdullah, formerly Balbir Singh the Sikh.

Me: How long ago was it when you married Saudah and how did your community take it in those days?

Ameer: Some 30 years ago. I fell in love, converted to Islam, discarded my turban and married the girl of my dreams.

Me: That’s so sweet.

Ameer: I became an outcast for leaving my religion, was shunned by my own community and treated as traitor.

Me: I understand. I had a Punjabi classmate who hated singer DJ Dave just as much for the same reasons.

Ameer: Not surprised. Hey. I know Dave and he is from Tanjung Malim (further up on Federal Route 1).

Me: I think things have changed and people from the Sikh community are now more tolerant of inter-racial marriages?

Ameer: Yes. And time heals everything. I am accepted as a friend again.

Me: How do you know?

Ameer: When fellow Punjabis in town call me by my childhood nickname.

Ameer, a civil servant, is happily married, deeply religious and have four grown-up children now. Ramizah is 22 and is a teacher at a Islamic religious school in KKB.

Am honoured to meet such a warm, honest and animal-loving family.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5, 1/80 sec.

#documentaryphotography #sikh #muslim #kkb #kualakububharu #smalltown

The Sun Sets Early At Victoria Harbour

The sun sets very early in Hong Kong during winter season. It was November when I was there. If I am not mistaken, it was only 6 pm local time. We were at Victoria Harbour and a Malaysian Star Cruise ocean liner or cruise ship was docked there. What a lovely coincidence.

The harbour and glittering skyline are a magnet for photographers. Almost missed the sunset as Kuala Lumpur’s golden hour is comparatively late at 7:30 pm usually. It was like going to Sabah for the first time to find the sun setting earlier. By 7:50 pm, Hong Kong sky would have been pitch black. What do you say Hong Kong friend Sam Chan and other HK residents?

Find a hotel in Hong Kong through my page at:

LG Viewty KU 990, ISO 101, f2.8, 1/7 sec

#hongkong #victoriaharbour #twilight #sunset #harbour #skyline #hk #magichour

Missing Hong Kong Suddenly

Was looking for pics of my Hong Kong trip. Asked Samantha Tan of Bernama, who went with me. She lost all her pics too. It was 2007 and, amazingly, she is still with Bernama today.

At last, I found some pics on my old blog after contacting Sam to get her to recall the year in question and the name of the product launch we attended. We took a hovercraft to Hong Kong from Macau where we attended the product launch.

The other day I was lamenting about losing all my pics from my extensive tour of Vietnam. Was very happy to be reunited Cheah E-Ling, my then travel partner but, sadly she lost all her pics too. She remembers our government minder as Vung. He was in some agricultural or health department. Any friends in Vietnam knows any Vung? Hopefully, he kept some pics.

Think of social media or the web as a very good good backup or cloud storage as it stays there and is indexed by Google and become searchable. All images stored on personal devices are at risk.

Pic of Hong Kong, with high density and tightly spaced buildings, the late afternoon sun casts long shadows, turning a small space into two different worlds of day and night. Eerie but beautiful.

This would have been a tough scene even for a dSLR camera but it was captured with the LG’s Viewty camera just launched then and gifted to lucky members of the media.

LG Viewty KU 990, ISO 53, f2.8, 1/2000 sec

#hongkong #macau #lg #streetphotography